Proper Hiring Procedures Can Protect Against Future Discrimination Claims

     The dental attorneys at Nardone Limited want to ensure our clients have the proper hiring procedures in place to protect their dental practice from future liability stemming from their actions during the hiring process. As part of managing a successful dental practice, all dental practice owners will need to go through the process of hiring a new employee at some point during their dental practice ownership. One area of potential liability that can be effectively protected against by proper hiring procedures is discrimination claims by rejected applicants.  Rejected applicants include any applicants to an open position who are not contacted for an interview, as well as those applicants that are interviewed but not hired.

Equal Employment Opportunity Laws

     Under federal equal employment opportunity laws, potential employers are prohibited from rejecting a job applicant based on several characteristics.  An applicant may not be rejected because of the applicant’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or age.  These characteristics are often referred to as protected classes.  The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”) protects applicants who are 40 years of age or older from discrimination based on age.

     An applicant who feels he has been discriminated against by a dental practice during the hiring process may file a discrimination charge against the dental practice with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) or the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (“OCRC”).  The applicant files a discrimination charge with the EEOC or the OCRC by completing an official charging document.  An applicant may also file a civil lawsuit against the hiring dental practice in federal court.

Recent Discrimination Claims

     Applicant claims of discrimination during the hiring process are increasingly common.  Specifically, age discrimination claims under the ADEA are rising.  One recent example is an age discrimination claim against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. by a 49-year-old job applicant who was rejected for a sales position.  The claim was upheld by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court is currently considering if it will hear the appeal.  Another example is a recent lawsuit filed in federal court against accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (“PWC”) by two men, ages 53 and 47, who claim their applications for an entry-level position were rejected because of their ages.

Proper Documentation of Applicants

     Having proper hiring procedures in place is vital to protecting a dental practice from claims of discrimination by rejected job applicants.  Proper retention and documentation of all applications is necessary in order to build a defense against claims of discrimination.

  1. First, all resumes or applications received for an open position should be retained and saved for future reference if necessary, either in hard copy form in a paper file, or electronically.
  1. Next, an alphabetical list of all applicants should be kept. This list should include the reason an applicant was rejected for the position.  The description should clearly articulate a reason for the rejection that is not based on one of the protected classes.
  1. This documentation should be completed for each applicant, each time the dental practice has an open position.

If this process is completed each time, the dental practice will be able to effectively rebut and defend against any future claims of discrimination related to its hiring process.

     Nardone Limited has extensive experience advising dental practices on proper hiring procedures.  Our firm has successfully defended dental practices against EEOC and OCRC claims, including claims of discrimination.  If you would like to discuss your dental practice’s hiring process, or have questions regarding proper hiring practices, contact our office.